Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Dry Drunk (Part 3)

Part 2 of "Dry Drunk" is posted here. This is Part 3.

A work of fiction.

I don't care much to reveal the tricks of the trade. I knew what it took to start a solid booze habit, so I did it, repeatedly. Some people have a trigger, some kind of reason why they started. Mine is pretty banal.

I was a struggling musician, being paid more by the audience in alcohol than the venue. This flashy businessmen always reimbursed me in J├Ągermeister at the end of each set. It didn't take long for my tolerance to take off. I was already annoyed at the audience, who had different priorities than to listen to me play. Sometimes I let my anger take the form of a loud energy, and if everything came together in the right way, they'd shut up and listen to me.

I always got more recognition from the bar than from the manager of the club I was playing. That's why I knew I was good. You've given them a positive charge and they want to pay you back for it. Consequently, I drank a lot. It wasn't about misery, it was mostly resentment that I slaved away for a few hundred dollars a night. And in the meantime, I found myself surrounded by the perpetually adolescent, who filled the tables and drank the beer.

I drank because I hated them, if you want to be totally honest about it. I was tired of the same man who offered everyone free pot, until his wife arrived and the two of them ended up in a pointless fight that ended up taking four times longer than originally advertised. He called her The Wicked Witch of the West and I never disliked her, only that she got in my way. This was my cue to leave, to collect, to walk two blocks downhill where my car was parked.

Three or four years later I abandoned live music, but I retained my heavy drinking ways. At least this was a semi-original booze story, one that isn't an immediate panacea as seems to be the case for so many. Drinking wasn't the solution to my problems. It only took the edge off my worries, the eternal job searches for rock clubs, making rent, rationalizing why I wasn't making it, wondering at what point I'd take an office job somewhere like everyone else.

Not to brag, but I am talented. Naturally, talent means nothing without connections, which is why I took whatever I could could get. The city has its own tastes, but if you go too far outside, you find yourself needing to brush up on your Hank Williams. I could do it because I had to do it, but I never affected the twang. The twang was what I'd deliberately lost, endearing to some, obnoxious to more. It's not all gone, but most of it is.

Country girls are all the same, but at least their consistency made my work easier. I never stayed long there. I had too much contempt for my audience, but pretended otherwise. Back in the beginning, it was all country girls. Then I moved to a big city, then another one, then another one. Anyone older than 30 who stays out past 3 am on some dull Wednesday is mostly the same. By then I was too drunk to care.

Sometimes I got so drunk I could barely sit on the barstool, but I somehow managed to hit the right notes and not blow out my vocal chords in the process. I didn't take chances like I used to do. I didn't challenge myself with a new song that put me out of my comfort zone. There was no need. Not with this audience. They set the bar nice and low for me, and I saw no need to try what would likely be ignored anyway. They only wanted to drink and talk and flirt and I had ceased to care.

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